Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at May 11th, 2021
Looking for grants for women starting a business? Money is always going to be an issue. What if you could get what is essentially free money? That’s what grants are – for the most part.
But how do you find the best options for you? How do you know if you need to be looking for grants or business loans for women? We recommend that you explore every option. This is because it will probably take a combination of funding options to fully fund your business.
Plus, there are business loans. But they are often not just for women. But there are other funding choices out there. Loans, crowdfunding, and even angel investors are all viable options. More on those later.
The government and private organizations want to GIVE you money! They’re highly competitive and rarely enough to fund a business on their own. Still, grants are a great way to supplement other business funding. And they are still worth the effort to apply. There really isn’t anything to lose except time – it’s free money. Here are a few you can start with.
The Amber Grant awards one prize of $10,000 per month to a woman-owned business. One of the recipients also gets an additional $25,000 grant at the end of the year. Applicants only need to tell their story and turn it in with a $15 application fee. See ambergrantsforwomen.com/get-an-amber-grant/apply-now.
Cartier has a lot of grants for women starting a business or keeping a company going. The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award has a regional category award and a science and technology award. And the regional award is $100,000 for first place. With $30,000 for second and third place.
The award goes to three women from each of seven international regions. This award is a grant to 21 female business owners from around the world each year. But women business owners who are just getting started may qualify. Look over the complete application for more information. See cartierwomensinitiative.com/about-us.
The Cartier Science and Technology Pioneer award is new as of 2021. Now three more women impact entrepreneurs at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation can get a new thematic award.
Open to women entrepreneurs from any country and sector. This award will highlight disruptive solutions built around unique, protected, or hard-to-reproduce technological or scientific advances. The laureate will get a $100,000 grant. Each of the two remaining finalists will get a $30,000 grant.
Cartier also offers a fellowship program. The fellowship is an educational program geared towards the 24 fellows selected each year. This fellowship program aims to equip the fellows with the necessary skills to grow their business.
It isn’t exactly a grant. But while it’s not a monetary award, the mentoring and networking opportunities could be worthwhile to apply for. Hence, see cartierwomensinitiative.com/fellowship-programme.
The mission of this group is to offer grants that help Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Americans. These are not just grants for women starting a business. They are meant for any gender, so you would be competing against Native Hawaiian, Alaskan, and Native American men. They help in the application process in addition to funds.
First Nations also helps point individuals to appropriate grants offered by other organizations, including the US government. This includes help with writing grant proposals. Therefore, see firstnations.org/grantmaking.
Also known as NBMBAA, the Scale-Up Pitch Challenge has cash prizes of $1,000 to $50,000. The association states its purpose is to help newer businesses with an African American ownership. This is a pitch competition for startup businesses. See nbmbaa.org/scale-up-pitch-challenge.
The NABDI Grant is funded by the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. It is not just for women. It provides funding to business owners of Native American or Alaskan Native descent. In 2019, the program provided more than $727,000 to 21 indigenous tribes. It was to support economic feasibility studies for specific economic development projects or business startups.
For 2020, NABDI planned to award 20-25 grants. There is no minimum or maximum amount of funding that can be requested. But most awards run from $25,000 to $75,000. They only fund projects for one year at a time, which is when they expect projects to be completed. To apply for a NABDI grant for your proposed economic development feasibility study, go to bia.gov/service/grants/tedc/apply-nabdi-grant.
There is more available via the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Businesses owned by Native Americans can get financing from the federal government through the Indian Affairs branch. These are not just for women. An individual can fill out an application for up to $500,000. But business entities and tribal enterprises may apply for more.
Potential borrowers can apply with any lending institution, they just have to use the application for Indian Affairs. Additional requirements are in place if the funds are used for construction, renovation, or refinancing. In general, a list of collateral, a credit report, and an analysis of business operations are required. See bia.gov/as-ia/ieed/loan-guaranty-insurance-and-interest-subsidy-program.
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is operated by the US Department of Commerce. It is dedicated to helping minority-owned businesses access the resources they need to grow and succeed. The MBDA is not just for women. But not: grant competitions are regularly changing.
Visit the MBDA’s website for information on all current opportunities. Currently, the MBDA helps its members apply for grants via Grants.gov. This involves help with how to apply for government grants. See mbda.gov/grants.
The MBDA oversees the Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Initiative. The initiative works to focus on the fast-expanding minority women entrepreneur population. This population is often a revenue generator for families, communities, and the nation. Minority women are the fastest growing population of entrepreneurs. While many women are making tremendous strides in the business world, they still face obstacles as entrepreneurs.
MBDA serves as an advocate for women’s economic empowerment. They support efforts to advance women’s equality and promote women economic advancement programming. The vision of EWOC is to ensure women worldwide to reach their economic potential. See mbda.gov.
The Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund is new. It serves as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund offers $10,000 to successful applicants. The fund is specifically for providing grants to business owners of color, women-owned businesses, and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. See lisc.org/covid-19/small-business-assistance/small-business-relief-grants/verizon-small-business-recovery-fund.
If your business is in the arts, and you’re of South Asian descent, then check out this fund. The India Center Foundation runs the fund. It works to support US-based South Asian arts workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund will disburse grants up to $2,000, depending on financial need to US-based arts workers of South Asian descent. This includes those in the performing arts, film, visual arts, and literature. You must have heritage from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Initial funding for the program is $20,000. But the India Center Foundation is soliciting donations to expand the grant program.
To be eligible, applicants must be of South Asian descent. Plus they must work in the arts and demonstrate loss of income due to COVID-19. Additionally, applicants must be at least 21 years old. They cannot be enrolled in a degree program. And they must be able to receive taxable income in the US. Grant funding could be put toward any artistic project. But the project must be developed, created, and presented within four to six weeks of receiving funding. See theindiacenter.us/artsfund.
The federal government’s Grants.gov is a running list of more than 1,000 available government grants, including minority business grants. The website compiles grants from over two dozen government agencies, like the SBA, the USDA, and the Department of Commerce. To find a grant that’s right for your business, use the Search Grants tool on the website. You can sort through the list of grants by keyword or opportunity number.
Once you find the grant you wish to apply for, click the hyperlinked opportunity number for more detail. There, you will find more info about the specific grant as well as any associated documentation you might need. To apply for a grant through Grants.gov, you must first register. Then, you can download an application package for the grant want to get. But be ready for a lengthy process. See grants.gov.
If you would rather not rely on grants so much to start and run your business, try crowdfunding. But not everyone with a campaign on a crowdfunding site is successful. More unique products and services tend to do better. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the most popular crowdfunding platforms to use. Some platforms may have higher success rates for women than others.
Angel investors are informal investors. Essentially, you are selling a part of your business to them. They tend to not want a huge percentage of your business. Plus they won’t pass by more conventional businesses, like happens with crowdfunding and venture capital. Hence they can be another supplement or replacement for grants.
If grants aren’t an option, loans might work for you. If you’re an immigrant, try the Business Center for New Americans. They offer a pilot program for microloans up to $75,000. They work with immigrants, refugees, women, and other minority entrepreneurs. The goal is to help minority business owners who have not been able to get traditional financing. Terms are 3% interest, and your loan repayment term goes up to a year. So see accompanycapital.org.
There are several options for grants for women starting a business. Apply for whichever grants you feel you are most likely to get. Other options for funding include crowdfunding, angel investors, and loans. Credit Suite can help you get the funding you need.